Sustainability is the concept of using resources at an environmentally- friendly rate whilst not compromising its existence for future generations. It is therefore vital that we look to our own practices and evaluate how sustainable they may be. Sustainability can be measured through calculations such as Ecological Footprint.

An ecological footprint is the amount of land required to maintain a sustainable living. It depends on one’s actions dependent on land and indicates unsustainable living when the land available surpasses that of the EF. This projection of a safe usage limit is known as our biological capacity. Here we may make the connection that the biological capacity may also be seen as the sustainable limit. The types of Ecological Footprints that exist are primarily; Food Footprint, Water Footprint, and Carbon Footprint. In simple terminology, this depends on aspects such as the amount of land required to sustain our eating habits, our daily activities, and other manmade needs and services.

The more our ecological footprint exceeds our biological capacity, the less sustainable we are. Upon taking a survey which took into account my daily activities and lifestyle, I found that my carbon foot was 9.2 gha. This exceeds the biological capacity of our Earth by an exponential amount. Following these findings, I went on to introspect the main contributors to this result. The overview following the survey showed that the main contributor to my result was my carbon footprint. The graphics below depict that my use of environmentally unfriendly transport and lifestyle lead to my heavy Carbon Footprint.

Transport

The existence of ride-hailing services such as Grab, Gojek, etc, has increased my use of private transport for convenience. The reason behind cars having an adverse effect on the environment is because the amount of energy required to power it is not sustainable. Modern vehicles heavily rely on petroleum. Passenger cars burn nearly one gallon of gasoline hence emitting about 20 pounds of CO2 (C2ES). As compared to public transport whereby more people may commute while only using a minimal amount of energy. According to the Center for Climate Change and Energy Solutions, communities with strong public transportation can reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons yearly. The amount of fossil fuels that have been burnt for my choice of convenience is unsustainable. However, the energy use also depends on other factors such as distance traveled, fuel efficiency and the number of people that commute. Due to my use of the hailing service, the fuel efficiency is incalculable due to varied automobile models used. Moreover, the journeys I make using cars are hardly never involved carpool. The release of energy fuels not only compromises the ozone layer but also impacts the amount of land used to extract fossil fuels to power the vehicle. This is the main cause of the impact it has on the environment.

In order to combat my carbon footprint by transport, I have resolved to adopt more sustainable practices revolving the same. These include; using a bike or walking for short distances or using other convenient but eco-friendly services such as SG bike. Accompanied by certain lifestyle changes, my journey most commonly made using Grab; to school – will be made inevitably by public transport.  

Diet

Given that my diet is entirely vegetarian, I was shocked that my food consumption increased my EF. This is due to the land used for grazing and the water required to process my daily intake of dairy products. According to the NRDC, dairy products like butter and cheese may be compared to be just as carbon consuming as meat products. Not to mention the number of emissions from livestock and the resources used to sustain them.

(NRDC)

I had always believed that my dirt was economically friendly given that I do not consume meat. However, my heavy daily intake of dairy may contribute to my EF just as worse as meat. In order to combat my EF due to dairy, I might limit my dairy to home-made dairy products which will reduce the processing energy gone into this. In addition, considering plant-based milk alternatives such as almond milk or coconut milk may also serve the purpose.

Sustainability is an integral part of our life on Earth and inevitably affects all beings, and processes that unfold on our planet. Introspecting my own ecological footprint has made me think twice about my lifestyle and practices. If we want to change the world, we must change ourselves first.

-Srinandini  Sukumar

Citations

“Reducing Your Transportation Footprint.” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 27 Oct. 2017, www.c2es.org/content/reducing-your-transportation-footprint/.

Shalant, Jenny. “To Shrink Your Carbon Footprint, Ease Up on the Dairy.” NRDC, 6 Mar. 2019, www.nrdc.org/stories/shrink-your-carbon-footprint-ease-dairy.

 

2 thoughts on “Evaluating my Sustainability”

  1. Sustainability – you have defined sustainability and linked to the Ecological footprint. You could extend this by explaining some of the factors that affect sustainability from the models you have reviewed.

    My Ecological Footprint – you have identified the key areas to make changed and linked to the bigger picture of climate change. You could expand further on the scientific detail of this process.

    Making changes – the suggested changes are suitable given your ecological footprint and you have made thoughtful considerations. It would be interesting to try and estimate what impact these changes would have.

    Communication – your report is clear and concise. Your research is relevant and supports your argument well.

    1. Thank you for your insight! I will work on adding more scientific detail to my explanation.

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